The Korea Herald


Korea's best hospitals skewed in central region: report

By Choi Jeong-yoon

Published : March 5, 2024 - 15:48

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While the government has issued administrative orders such as suspension of licenses for strike doctors, doctors walk in a hospital in Incheon. (Yonhap) While the government has issued administrative orders such as suspension of licenses for strike doctors, doctors walk in a hospital in Incheon. (Yonhap)

Several hospitals in South Korea made their way into a list of "best hospitals" around the world, all but one of which were located in the Greater Seoul region, drawing a contrast to several prestigious hospitals in Japan which were located in non-central areas.

According to the list compiled by Newsweek, a global media organization, in partnership with Statista, 17 Korean hospitals were ranked in the top 250 hospitals worldwide. Among them, only one hospital came from outside the capital area of Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi Province.

The so-called "Big 5," major hospitals in the capital area were placed within the top 100, with Asan Medical Center ranking 22nd, Samsung Medical Center 34th, Severance Hospital -- Yonsei University 40th, Seoul National University Hospital 43rd, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital 81st, and Gangnam Severance Hospital 94th.

The last hospital on the list among the 17, was Daegu Catholic University Medical Center, the only hospital on the list that was located outside of the Seoul Metropolitan area. None of the state-run university hospitals outside Greater Seoul made the list, despite the government's announcement to strengthen essential medical resources in those regions.

Meanwhile, half of Japan's 15 hospitals on the list came from non-central areas, showing fairly well-distributed medical resources. While the University of Tokyo Hospital, St. Luke's International Hospital, and Kameda Medical Center, which all took the top places, were in the central area, the other seven were in the rural areas, and of them 5 were run by the state.

In contrast to Korea struggling with a shortage of doctors and losing patients to Seoul's "Big 5" hospitals, Japan has been making steady human and material investments in its regional hospitals, according to local reports. Japan has a regional quota system for doctors, which may have contributed to the rise of regional hospitals, they added.

Such results come amid the Korean government's plan to increase the enrollment quota by 2,000 from the current 3,058, centered on the country's state-run universities in the region. Increasing the number of professors from some 1,200 to 2,200 is also in the plan.

However, residents have walked out of hospitals and medical students have handed in leave of absence letters in protest against the government's planned hike.

The Newsweek list is an annual ranking of the world's best hospitals, a series that began in March 2019. This year's list included data on 2,400 hospitals across 30 countries. Each hospital's score is based on an online survey of more than 85,000 medical experts and public data from post-hospitalization patient surveys regarding general satisfaction.